When most people talk about Leadership they talk about the psychology side of it, but I believe that it goes much deeper that than. In this episode I’m going to talk a lot about brain chemicals and I’m going to get a little deep into the biology of leadership. I was first made aware of such a think when Simon Sinek talked about the makeup of the brain in his famous “Start with Why” TEDx Talk a few years ago. I was fascinated with the fact that his “golden circle” was grounded in biology and not psychology. There are many chemicals in our brains that affect our emotions, our feelings and our behavior. I want to talk about 5 specific ones today. It really makes an impact when you combine these chemicals with the basic human stories of our past and present. To get the full impact of this article, you really need to listen to the podcast episode on this post.
I should probably make it abundantly clear that I’m not a scientist nor a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV. This is all information that I found on the internet or read in a one or more books that I’m piecing together in my mind… So please don’t use this to make any sort of medical decisions. The four “Happy” chemicals are:
But there’s one more chemical we must talk about. Its cortisol. Also called the stress chemical. Its that feeling you get, when you’re scared. We’ve all seen the documentaries where a herd of gazelles are grazing in a field and one hears something and his head pops up… then all the gazelles heads pop up. That’s cortisol. It heightens our senses, makes us hyper aware, paranoid and tightens our muscles in order to start the fight or flight process. It’s also quickly spread among social animals. Then, one gazelle sees the lion, and darts off, they all follow and survive. The cortisol leaves their bodies and all is well… good stuff right? Well… Maybe not. Its great in short doses, however, in order to heighten our senses and tighten our muscles our body needs energy and it takes that energy from somewhere else. It takes it from our growth functions and our immune system. This is bad for us, if we have a sense of fear in our workplace. If we’re always stressed, we have a constant drip…drip…drip of cortisol in our system, weakening our immune system. Cortisol also inhibits the production of Oxytocin. This means that stressed and fearful people are more concerned with their selves than that of others. How do you think this will affect team work or business growth? Think about it. We are slowly killing our employees when we make them afraid and lead with fear. We must lead with trust. If you’re reading this instead of listening to the podcast, I highly recommend you listen to this episode. You’ll get a lot more out of it as I go more in depth on the effect of these chemicals on leaders.
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